March is my favorite month for weather in the Willamette Valley.
This time of the year marks the beginning of the transition into spring. The ubiquitous overcast skies begin to break up. Flowers make their reappearance. And the temperatures gradually edge upwards of 60 degrees - causing Oregonians to start wearing shorts and t-shirts again, and making native Californians regard us as crazy people for doing so.
It also means that we get to see the backdrop of blue sky set against enormous thunderheads. This combination of storm and sun is absolutely fantastic, contrasting and balancing hope and camaraderie with drama and power. It makes for gorgeous cloudscapes from every angle, at any hour of the day. And don’t get me started on the jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring, picture-perfect sunsets during this epic weather.
And these are the perfect conditions for my favorite celestial phenomenon: rainbows.
No matter how much someone claims to love those classic rainy days that are perfect for curling up in a bay window, sipping on a mug of tea, and reading a good book, those dark Oregon winters can really get to a person after a while. When it’s only as bright as twilight from November through February, people get cabin fever from being under the clouds so long, and start pining after sunshine.
This overcast oppression is a very familiar feeling for those of us who work hard for the good of God’s kingdom in this fallen world. Sometimes we have to toil countless hours in the darkness, with only the faintest flickering hope at the end of the tunnel. There are countless stories of this spiritual march in the Bible - from the Israelites wandering the desert, to King David in exile, to Paul in prison (yet again). And similar stories can be found all around us to this day.
God never said that life after being saved would be easy. In fact, it’s the opposite.
In Isaiah 40:30, it says, “Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall down in exhaustion.” I John 3:13 says, “Do not be surprised, dear brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.” And in John 16:33, Jesus says, “In this world, you will have tribulation…” Our world is truly broken, riddled with sin, and under the oppression of the powers of darkness. So of course life is going to be hard - especially for those of us who have been redeemed, who have been made righteous, and who are seeking after the Light of God.
But God knows this! And in knowing, He made sure that we would be reminded at every opportunity that we should carry on.
There are heaps of verses that daily encourage us to keep going, in just about every book in the Bible. (Just try Google-searching it, and you’ll see what I mean.) Songs and psalms give us hope. God’s promises strengthen our faith. The rest of John 16:33 says, “...But take heart, for I have overcome the world!”
He also encourages us through His people - our brothers and sisters in Christ. We do not work alone for His kingdom, but rather with a whole host of other Christians who are after God’s own heart, too. Our fellow believers are reminders of what we can achieve through Christ when we keep working toward the goal. That’s why so many of us enjoy potlucks, listening to K-Love, and hanging out after church: We encourage one another and spur each other onward.
And God also shows us the literal calm after the storm. Rainbows are reminders that God will always keep His promises to His people (Genesis 9). They show us that the storms of this life will pass. They demonstrate that no matter how dark it may seem, God’s light is always present in the world. And they prove that sometimes the most beautiful masterworks of God can be wrought out of our troubles.
Next time you find yourself struggling in the darkness, wondering if you will ever see the light of day again, I encourage you to remember these words from I Corinthians 15:58: “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the Lord’s work, knowing that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
And never forget to look out for those rainbows.
With love in Christ,
Annie M. Pasquinelli
Worship & Media Director
Riviera Baptist Church